Raising the Minimum Wage…Why Not?

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Today I was reading where Gov. Jerry Brown backed a plan to raise California’s minimum wage to $10.00 an hour by 2016. A number of Los Angeles-area business groups criticized the legislation, saying it would unfairly burden companies. And according to the article in The Huffington Post – Los Angeles, Stuart Waldman, president of the Valley Industry and Commerce Association, called the hike “obscene” and said it’s unrealistic to increase wages 25 percent in two years.

Well isn’t that special and of course the requisite reasoning for these businesses objections is that the legislation is done by people who don’t understand business. And they would have to pass the costs along to their customers and clientele. HOGWASH!! or BULLSHIT!!!!, you choose. California’s minimum wage is $8.00 which is higher than the federal minimum wage of $7.25. However, states like Washington ($9.19) and Oregon ($8.95) are  higher.

Most of those who support this legislation says that the hike will add about $4000 annually to a worker’s paycheck thus with the extra money, they can infuse the local economy with much-needed revenue.  How bad can that be?

I feel the problem is not that employers aren’t able to pay employees a fair living wage, it’s that many of these multimillion dollar businesses simply don’t want to. Many of the owners are motivated by greed; they’re money-whores. They have been allowed to cruise for decades with hiring illegal immigrants, low-balling wages, paying no health insurance to many of their employees ( and this is done by keeping the employees below what would be considered full-time) and in some cases,  inciting an atmosphere of fear. Their stance, because of the over-saturation of unemployed people and illegal immigrants willing to work, is that all of their employees are expendable. If the employee puts up a fuss, then SEE YA! And the reality is that they will probably have that position filled within a few days, if that long.

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I  saw a couple of months ago where the owner of the restaurant chain Mr. Chow, Michael Chow, sold his small mansion, and I’m gagging at the idea of a “small” mansion, and bought a behemoth. Michael Chow is apropos of many of these business owners and restaurateurs who are out there putting up a stink about minimum wage. And I use him as example because he comes from affluence. His father is a renown Chinese actor and his mother comes from a very wealthy family. This is why most of those business owners have no clue. They’ve never had to work for minimum wage, they’ve never had to travel for hours to and from work and they’ve never had to work multiple jobs to make ends meet. They don’t have to figure out how to pay for glasses, braces, clothing, food, shelter, school supplies and college. That’s a given for them.

Many hop into their Rolls Royce Phantoms, Bentley’s, Jags and what not,  leave work and pass by their employees standing at the bus stop, and don’t even see them because they’re invisible and go home to their mansions in Beverly Hills, Bel Air, the Hollywood Hills or wherever they decide to lay their expensive hats and handbags. Unfortunately, most couldn’t care less if they tried about their employees plight.  I have seen many domestic helpers coming out of the Hollywood Hills on foot, down perilous hills, around dangerous curves all the while their employers were luxuriating at their plush, palatial estates.  You would think that knowing their helper doesn’t have a car, they could at least take them to the bus stop. Oh Hell no, what was I thinking.

According to CNBC, California is number 9 on the list of where the wealthiest 5% in the nation lives.

Percentage of millionaire households in 2011: 6.01%
Millionaire households: 750,686
Total households: 12.49 million

To me this is obscene. I don’t begrudge anyone their hard-earned success, but a lot of the wealthiest people’s success comes from family wealth and connections. It puts a person WELL ahead of the game when you have everything in place to succeed. It’s the same with housing. We have an influx of new apartment complexes going up here in Los Angeles almost every few months, but the vast majority of working people can’t afford to live there. The rent is starting in most places, anywhere from $3000, $6000 to upwards of $13,000 a month. Who are these millionaire/billionaire developers building these complexes for if it’s not for their own ilk?

Even with a minimum wage increase to $10.00 an hour, most people still have to live in undesirable neighborhoods or way out in the Valley where the apartments are cheaper, but there’s stiff competition to rent the ones in better neighborhoods. Living in the city where it’s convenient to everything…within walking and short driving distances to supermarkets, pharmacies and shopping complexes, FORGET IT, unless you have stayed put in a rent stabilized apartment for years.

It saddens me to know that we are fast becoming a nation where fiction is now becoming fact. We are moving toward the Dystopian societies of the films Elysium and Soylent Green. The gap is widening between the rich and poor and the middle class is being slowly squeezed out of the equation entirely. So I ask again,  why not raise the minimum wage to something where people can live comfortably with some semblance of dignity and respect? Well I guess raising the minimum wage would mean the wealthy just couldn’t buy another expensive toy…and we can’t have THAT, now can we?

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Memorial Day

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Memorial day is a time to pause, reflect and remember those brave men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice to secure our freedoms.

They are our true heroes and heroines – we will never forget you. And to our military personnel still serving, you are loved, cherished and respected. May your journey be safe and come home to us soon.

THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE!

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Arguing With Bloggers Who Are A Bit Twisted….Why?

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I had to say something about an exchange I had with a blogger on a hot-button topic about Women in Combat. Normally I’m an easy-going person and I rarely get pulled into a back and forth exchange, but this blogger was just way over the line. After peeking on said blogger’s site, I found that the entire idea for the blog is to piss people off. This blogger makes references about us “all being ignorant

Well, that was on the money because you are ignorant to allow ANYONE who is not out for the right thing to pull you into their angry, myopic world. Some people live to be insulting and nasty then hide behind they’re just being “real” and freedom of speech. Social media and blogs are in my opinion, here to inform, teach, entertain and to start INTELLIGENT dialogue about subjects that may be a bit controversial or difficult for people to discuss in personal settings.

Under no circumstances should anyone use a platform to spew hatred, sexism, bigotry, prejudice, homophobia or any other perceived “isms” that can be emotionally or physically damaging. Disagree with a person’s opinion, but to get personal is an entirely different story. I am guilty of it because my buttons were pushed….I said some things that I shouldn’t have, however there are some vitriolic people walking and “blogging” among us who brings out the absolute worst in you. It’s not an excuse but it is how I feel.

I wanted to start my blog to have fun and talk about subjects that I enjoy. I don’t have a narrow scope of the world we live in…it’s harsh, cruel, violent and dangerous. But it is also a world filled with good people, good intentions and great opportunities if you know where to look. The person who created that blog is a sad, probably lonely, isolated and angry person. I feel sorry for them to be filled with such disdain for the world and the people in it. When a person gets pleasure out of spreading and inciting negativity, that person is unfortunately, someone you just have to chalk up to a loss.

As one of my dear friends has said for years, we all must weed our social gardens, nourish the flowers that are there and then plant new ones. And after getting this off my chest….time to plant some flowers.

Happy International Women’s Day!

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Today is a day to celebrate women. Women who have fought the good fight for fairness and equality for women and young girls globally. Though we have made great strides in education as well as our professional and personal lives, there’s still a long way for us to go. In the US alone, women earn about 77% of men’s salaries in 2011 compared to 77.4 % in 2010. We’ve actually lost ground in some sectors.

Over two-thirds of women in the world—up to 76 percent in some countries—have been targeted for sexual and/or physical abuse at some point in their lives, according to United Nations statistics on women. Yet we had members of Congress fighting tooth and nail to not reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act,  legislation that would make it easier to prosecute crimes against women, including domestic violence, sexual assault and trafficking. The bill also extends protections to gays and lesbians and women of Native American tribal lands who are attacked or abused by non-tribal residents.

We also have another all out assault on women’s reproductive rights where some Senators, Congressmen and Governors feel that they have a “moral imperative” to legislate a woman’s body as if we’re not intelligent enough to make informed decisions. Trying to stop contraceptives from being covered under our work insurance but Viagra and other erectile dysfunction medications for men, are completely acceptable. However, they should stop saying they’re pro-life when in actuality they’re pro-fetus. This legislation has nothing to do with anything other than men trying to dictate our actions.  And laws of this nature will disproportionately affect rural and impoverishment women because they won’t be able to seek abortions out of the states with these Draconian laws as those who are wealthier. Thus causing more children to be abandoned, abused, thrown into a system that is painfully outdated and flawed and so goes the cycle of poverty for the children and their mothers.

Rape and honor killings are at a fever pitch in countries like India and throughout the Middle East and those women are in danger just running errands or going to the movies. Africa is one of the biggest shames of them all, because some African women in particularly dangerous regions, are serially raped on a daily basis. They are impregnated, infected with STD’s including HIV/AIDS, maimed and genitally mutilated.

Yes, this is a day to embrace our triumphs and acknowledge our struggles, but under no circumstances should we ever be lulled into a false sense of security that we’ve finally arrived. We must still keep up the offensive not only for ourselves but women all over the world. We should not rest until every woman and little girl has the same opportunities as men and boys. Gender should NEVER be an obstacle to success and happiness.

Peace, love and blessings to all of you…until next year, Besos!

If not now, then when? The conversation on stricter gun laws is needed.

In the wake of the absolutely horrific tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut where 27 people lost their lives including the shooter, when will the time be right to start a serious dialogue on stricter gun laws? I must admit I was on the fence about guns because I know that human beings will find a way to kill each other with or without them. But there are far too many of these types of rogue shootings happening in our communities across this nation. Not just in low-income communities as typified in Hollywood action flicks, TV police dramas or in the stereotypical media-hyped 11:00 p.m. lead story, but in bedroom communities and affluent areas that people flee to in order to get away from so-called “big city violence”. The sad but simple truth here is that no one is safe no matter where you live…violence can visit anyone of us at any given time and it doesn’t ask if it can visit, it just appears much like the dreaded Grim Reaper.

While I believe people should have the right to defend themselves, however I don’t believe that access to guns, ammo and what not should be so darn easy. You can go on-line and if someone searches long enough, can buy any type of weapon and artillery they want with ease and without much of a identity or background check. The madness may not stop completely, but it most certainly can be curtailed. And if the shooter, as mentioned in various reports, was mentally unstable, then that makes it even worse because we never want to continue to stigmatize the mentally ill, but people with certain mental illnesses should be called into question when purchasing lethal weapons. Even if it means having a database with people who have been diagnosed with the more potentially violent mental illnesses. Sorry, but something has to be done and it may not go down well with many people but too many lives are needlessly lost to gun violence.

I was watching a segment on a TV news magazine where this shooting range in Texas offered  to host kid’s birthday parties. You had young children, siting in chairs, whose feet couldn’t even touch the ground and were as young as 7 and 8 ( oh by the way, the girls had “pink” guns) there shooting at targets with LIVE ammo. The reasoning behind this twisted mindset, according to the owner, that it’s better to teach them young how to safely handle weapons. Here’s a thought, how about not having weapons around for them to safely handle or at the very least, allow kids to be kids and not train them to become some gun-toting assassins before they’re 10. What do you think… far-fetched???

We can all sit behind out laptops and fume, chat among our family and friends but it’s time for all of us to pull up our big boy pants and big girl panties to do what needs to be done…call our local, state and federal officials on the carpet about gun laws. Make our voices heard load and clear that we want stricter laws and we won’t take no for an answer. The NRA has had a strangle-hold on our government for too long and it’s time for them to break free of their grip and do what’s right for this country or unfortunately we will be mourning another shooting tragedy such as Sandy Hook Elementary School. No, guns don’t kill people, people kill people, but too much easy access to guns by the wrong people can make this a very scary and dangerous world to live in.

Aftermath of Hurricane Sandy

Trees down causing a taxi to crash in Manhattan.

Flooding in Ocean City Maryland.

Flooding near the Brooklyn Bridge Park on the East River.

Flooding in the train station in New York.

View of the flooding down 20th Avenue in New York.

Car is submerged in flood waters flowing down 20th Avenue in New York.

Flooding in Battery Park – New York.

Rising water under the Brooklyn Bridge – New York.

Hurricane Sandy is a Beast!

Pounding Atlantic City.

Along the Coast.

An apartment building decimated by Sandy.

As last reported by AP, the storm has knocked out power to 1.5 million people along the Eastern Seaboard. Be careful and stay safe if you’re in the path of Sandy.

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